I find it difficult to resolve my playing of hunting sims: on the one hand, I enjoy their challenge and detail and often beautiful open worlds; on the other hand, I dislike that they’re about killing harmless animals. These thoughts are rushing back to the surface after seeing the announcement of theHunter: Call Of The Wild [official site]. It’s powered by the same engine as Just Cause 3 so it looks gorgeous, but the trailer below is about shooting an oblivious grazing animal.
I like the way that hunting sims can make all the little things you do in a first-person shooter more deliberate. You think about where you’re positioning yourself a lot more, as targets will flee not only if they see you but if they can smell you. You’re careful about where you’re stepping, because you’re not just making noise but leaving tracks wherever you go. You’re often aiming not just to kill, but to kill as humanely as possible, which means you’re thinking about more than just headshots.
The catch with these games for me is that I’d rather I wasn’t hunting animals. I’d be more comfortable if your targets were humans, even. The animals are mostly defenseless and pose no threat to the player, so as in real life hunting them for sport seems plain mean. I think my ideal hunting sim would be one that has a photography mode, so I could be forced to consider all the same things as mentioned above but my final shot is from a camera rather than a rifle. In the words of the trailer above, I’d rather just be visiting. A tourist in this land.
If you’re not familiar, this is a sequel to theHunter, an online, free-to-play hunting sim which has been out for seven years. I played it just a little but not enough to pay for anything in it. The sequel is said to feature 50 square miles of terrain, including wetlands, forests, valleys and open fields, although the terrain is “split up into separate and distinct hunting reserves,” so I’m not sure if you can walk seamlessly across that terrain. You can also play it in 8-person multiplayer, if you want to team up against the furry animals.
I sort of do. Your mileage may vary.